A Rare (for me) Flamingo Fishing Report

A Rare (for me) Flamingo Fishing Report

Ken Shannon and Bob Stearns were both on my mind a lot this week, as I fished out of Flamingo with my son Maxx (thus the Flamingo Fishing Report). It would have been nice to have either or both of those gentlemen with us. I’ve had many great trips down there with Ken, and learned more fishing there one day with Bob than I had in a dozen trips on my own. Great human beings, both of them.

And of course, a blessed Easter to all.

News of the Week
The year 2016 is shaping up to be the roughest yet for the Indian River Lagoon system. There was a total fish kill in the Banana River Lagoon this week. My understanding is that the biological collapse was nearly complete. Zero dissolved oxygen in the water asphyxiated everything there that needs to extract dissolved oxygen from that water to stay alive- all the fish and shellfish, all the other invertebrates, all the rooted plant life that had managed to survive to this point. Air breathers like dolphins and manatees won’t be faring too well either, as there is absolutely nothing left for them to eat there. Interested readers can get more information here: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2016/03/23/what-we-know—-and-dont-know—-fish-kill/82163574/

A tragic bit of news.

Fishing!
Tammy had given me a glowing report of her Econ trip last Saturday. I went by kayak on Tuesday and managed two sunfish in almost five hours, an ill omen for my charter the next day.

On Wednesday Wisconsin fly fishers Vic Gulla and his son Daniel joined me for a St. Johns/Econlockhatchee trip. Fishing was embarrassingly slow. In an all day trip they got a few sunfish, two gar, and two small bass. These guys are good anglers, too.

Early Thursday morning I pointed the chariot towards south Florida with the Mitzi in tow, meeting Maxx in Florida City at about 930. At Flamingo we got our backcountry permit, although we could not do what we wanted, which was to set up a base camp on the Oyster Bay chickee for three nights. No, we had to break camp and move every morning, a big waste of time and fuel, but park rules is park rules.

Our first night was at south Joe River chickee. Fishing in that area we got a couple ladyfish, a couple snapper, a small trout, a trophy lizardfish that I wish I’d photographed (don’t have any lizardfish photos), a few puffers, and some big, ugly gafftopsail catfish. The catfish would be a recurring theme on this trip.

flamingo fishing report

Maxx casts as the sun sets at south Joe River.

 

flamingo fishing report

Be it ever so humble. And they just cleaned the port-o-potty, too.

In general the water down there looks terrible and Coot Bay, which in my experience had always been clear, looks how the Mosquito Lagoon currently looks. I’m glad our state government is doing everything it can to keep Florida’s water quality at its historically high levels. Anyway…

Day two was spent moving camp to campsite B. We fished along the way, nabbing several more handsome sailcats. While casting a shoreline along which I was poling, Maxx also got a nice 27 inch snook on a pot-gut jig Bob Sterns had given me.

flamingo fishing report

Maxx about to boat his snook.

 

flamingo fishing report

A happy young man with a handsome fish.

We dropped off our gear at the second campsite and went looking for tarpon, the main focus of our planning for this trip. We found some, big, happy, rolling fish. One soon nailed my black and purple streamer and tried to kick my ass. It took thirty minutes of straining and grunting but Maxx finally leadered and lipped it, after which we used the trolling motor to revive it enough until Maxx couldn’t hold it any more. Awesome!

Maxx jumped an even bigger one on a deep-running DOA Bait Buster but it only stayed on for a couple jumps before tossing the bait.

flamingo fishing report

Tarpon on fly, it does not get any better!

 

flamingo fishing report

Yes, it was a solid fish.

Night two was spent at the Shark River chickee. There Maxx and I experienced the heaviest no-see-um concentration that I personally have ever been fortunate enough to witness. I got utterly devoured while making supper. We jumped into the boat and rode around while eating our spaghetti and no-see-ums (I guess we got them back just a little bit there) just so we could relax, after a fashion of speaking, in bug-free comfort.

The bugs were waiting for us when we got back.

We got into the tent as fast as we could. So we would have something to do in there about 800 of the tiny bloodsuckers came in with us. It was about an hour until dark, and we killed diminutive, biting nuisances the entire time, actually ending up with a relatively bug-free sleep.

The bugs were waiting for us when we woke up. Several clouds of no-see-ums, each with thousands of individuals, hovered outside our tent. The diabolical midges knew we had to come out, I guess. There was no wind to disperse them, so they just bided their time.

We broke down camp in record time but in that time they bit the snot out of us. A fast boat ride blew them all away. All that was left were the welts.

We went back to where the tarpon were the previous day. Most of them were gone. We sat down to wait, a nice breeze keeping the bugs away. A school of fish came, obviously going someplace. We followed and fished them for about thirty minutes, without a bite, then gave up and returned to the “spot” and waited.

Another school came. Maxx jumped one on the Bait Buster. Two jumps and it was off. We followed and fished them fruitlessly for about 20 minutes, then returned to the “spot” and again waited.

Another school came. I got a bite on a Bait Buster, a big fish. One jump and it was off. We followed and fished them for about 20 minutes, then returned to the “spot” and again waited.

No more came. We eventually gave up, since we had to go to the Joe River chickee for our final night.
On the way we caught a few seatrout, keeping two 16 inch fish for supper. The catfish again made an appearance. No shortage of catfish down there, that’s for sure.

Joe River chickee has a double platform. Our neighbor this night was an 83 year old gentleman who was down there fishing by himself. Right on, baby! I can only pray that will be me in 20 years, and there will still be such a thing as wild fish to fish for.

flamingo fishing report

Joe River sunrise, Easter morning.

And that, dear reader, is this week’s Flamingo fishing report from Spotted Tail.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
http://www.spottedtail.com/blog
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.



Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

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Kumiski is having a two-yard sale on December 13. See the partial list of items here…

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Mike Conneen started the entire affair with an email. It had been way too long since I had participated in a real adventure.

This is where the adventure started.

This is where the adventure started.

Monday morning found us launching kayaks at Coot Bay Pond. Our destination was Cape Sable. Our goals were similar but different. Mike wanted a 30 inch snook, and to catch a fish with a fly rod (something he had never done). I wanted a seatrout, a redfish, a snook, a tarpon, and a crevalle jack, all on fly.

Mike carried two spinning rods and one fly rod. I had a six-weight only.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

I brought some luck, too!

We’d been out maybe an hour when I spotted a snook layed up in ten inches of water. The gurgler landed about a foot in front of it. I popped it once and the fish was on! Releasing that fish was very satisfying, and an auspicious beginning to our trip.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

This snook really took the gurgler.

I blew out every other fish I saw in that bay.

In the meantime Mike had jumped three baby tarpon, using a DOA Tiny TerrorEyz.

The bay ended and we paddled through an overgrown tidal creek into another bay. A hard wind was blowing from the east. Fortunately we were heading west. The wind and waves precluded any fishing here, though.

We passed through another creek into a small pond. The water was murky and I blew up every fish I saw. I couldn’t see them until I was on top of them. Mike cast blindly, without success.

Mike hit a snoozing crocodile with his kayak. Ten feet of panicked reptile threw water and mud in every direction. Was that mud on the seat of Mike’s pants?

Soon enough we were more concerned with navigation than fishing. The sun was low in the sky and we did not want to spend the night in the kayaks. With the help of his telephone Mike found us a small patch of dry land just as dark was settling in. My dinner was a granola bar and an orange.

In the morning a five foot shark found my kayak to be an object of his curiosity. At least I could see him coming.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

One shark, coming right up.

We came to a place where there were at least a dozen large crocs all laying around. Our appearance sent several scurrying into the water. Some just remained where they were, unconcerned. We took some photos.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

These guys were not concerned by our presence. If I were them I wouldn’t be, either.

crocs too

The current was flowing hard the wrong way at the next creek we came to. We ate lunch, then Mike took a cast with the Tiny TerrorEyz. BAM! Nice snook. He got five on six casts. I got a jack and a small snook, but no way could I keep up with Mr. On Fire. He got at least a dozen fish, maybe more. Then the current slacked off, and we paddled down the creek.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

He got some bigger ones. They were beautiful, healthy fish.

We camped that night and the next on Cape Sable.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

It was low tide at sunrise.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

The ibis enjoy the low water.

In the morning we paddled back to the snook spot. I got a small redfish on a pink Clouser Minnow, as well as a couple snook. Mike did even better than the previous day. He had his 30 inch snook right by the kayak, where it broke off. But he pulled the fly rod out, hooking two snook with it. The first broke off. The second he boated and released. How many people can say their first fish on fly was a snook?

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

This ugly pink fishair fly got me quite a few fish.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

The first fish Mike caught with a fly rod was this snook.

That night we were sitting at a small campfire made of very dead mangrove branches. I mentioned that old mangrove wood frequently contained scorpions. Later that night while trying to sleep, Mike felt something crawling on his back. When he went to grab it, it stung him twice, once on the back and once on his hand. It was a scorpion, which had apparently climbed into his clothes while he tended the fire. After killing it he packed up his gear, not wanting to risk a second encounter with another beastie. I heard him making noise and got up to see what he was doing. Once informed, I packed up too.

We launched the kayaks just after midnight, paddling under a nearly full moon the 11 miles back to Flamingo. It was beautiful out there, a great tactic for beating the east wind that just didn’t quit while the sun shone. After the moon set we had an hour of spectacular star gazing, complete with meteors and satellites. I do not know the words to describe just how fantastic that hour was.

Fortunately Mike did not swell up like a balloon or suffer any other lasting effects from his scorpion encounter.

As it got light we fished in the dredge hole behind the Flamingo Campground, catching several jacks and ladyfish. Some big tarpon rolled but did not bite our offerings.

We spent Thursday in Flamingo unpacking, cleaning, and repacking, preparing for Phase Two.

Friday morning we launched the kayaks at West Lake, heading to Shark Point. We travelled through a series of lakes, ponds, and tidal creeks. Fishing was slow, although Mike jumped a baby tarpon on the Tiny TerrorEyz.

Once we reached Garfield Bight, Mike proceeded to just crush the snook. I had three great shots at redfish. All three spooked off the fly.

We camped on the Shark Point chickee. Don’t go there if you have a guano allergy.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

The chickee was covered in bird droppings.

Saturday offered the best weather of the week, a light east wind instead of the 20 knots we had experienced the rest of the week. We gently floated across Snake Bight, getting shots at spooky snook and redfish the whole way. I got one snook. Mike hooked three reds on a shad tail, catching one. At the Snake Bight channel I hooked, and lost, another snook. We were back in Flamingo at 3 PM, and back in Palm Bay at 9. I pulled in to my yard about 10. I still need to empty the chariot and clean up my gear.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

Saturday’s weather was spectacular.

Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report

This was the last fish I got.

Our goals were not completely met. Mike did not get the 30 inch snook, and I did not get a seatrout or a tarpon. I suppose a return trip is in order.

That, my friends, is Flamingo Everglades Kayak Fishing Report. It was a fantastic week of fellowship and adventure.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com
www.johnkumiski.com
www.rentafishingbuddy.com
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jkumiski

 

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.